The Lumineers released one of the easiest listening albums in recent years with their self-titled debut LP and with it, they were essentially granted the choice of playing to whomever they wanted, wherever they wanted, whilst simultaneously owning the keys to cities all over the world.
They released one of the most catchy tunes in recent memory in “Ho Hey”, with its undeniable chorus sound tracking numerous weddings and dates. And while they essentially had the world at their feet, it appears the success of their debut has left the band stale and lacking in imagination. While new album Cleopatra has it’s ups and definitely isn’t the worst album you’ll hear this year (there’s some real folk-pop gems on there), it could actually rate up their with one of the most vanilla and unadventurous pieces to come out in the last couple of years.
What drew the world to The Lumineers on their debut was the warmth and whimsical fun within their tunes. At the very least, after stumbling upon this goldmine of tuneage, the least I’d have expected the band to do was try and replicate the success of their self-titled. Yes, that may have seemed boring and not taking risks, but there’d be at the least some joy and jovialness for listeners to warm to. I’ve tried to listen to Cleopatra a few times now and sadly, the purity of their debut doesn’t exist on Cleopatra.
As mentioned above, there still are some aspects of the album that are quite pleasing. The opening three tracks in “Sleep On The Floor”, “Ophelia” and “Cleopatra” had me really excited about what was to come. “Ophelia” is a near replication or answer to “Ho Hey”, and frankly, I’m OK with that.
Despite the positivity and promise the opening of the album showed, this is about where the LP peaks. A fair few of the tracks follow the same pattern of the slow build, followed by a percussion filled climax, before petering out in the closing seconds. Normally I love a slow build, but just couldn’t feel it here.
Clocking in at just over half an hour, the brevity of Cleopatra doesn’t allow the album to come into its own, which surely holds back any chance it had at building its own identity and strength. With that in mind, I’m a big fan of “In The Wind” and “Angela”, with their piano and acoustic guitar lead entireties. They’re a real ‘Sunday Morning, reading the paper, cooking breakfast’ type of operator.
While I know The Lumineers are capable of creating really good and loveable music, sadly Cleopatra is not the band at their best. Maybe the sophomore slump is a real thing? Having really enjoyed their debut release, I can’t help but feel the band has stagnated creatively somewhat in the three years since. You can only hope they return to their best soon enough.
Review Score: 5.7 out of 10.
Cleopatra is out now.